- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2022

The United States is seeking a NATO-like alliance to contain China in Asia, and Washington is to blame for provoking the war in Ukraine and growing global instability, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in remarks Monday. 

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Mr. Wang, in harsh comments reflecting Beijing’s mounting anti-U.S. stance, also criticized the Biden administration’s recent global democracy summit and asserted that China’s communist system represents “people’s democracy.”

“The world today is indeed very unstable, and great changes unseen in a century are unfolding to us scene by scene,” Mr. Wang said in Beijing. “In order to maintain their hegemonic status, some major powers regained the Cold War mentality and created factional confrontations, which further aggravated the turmoil and division, and made the already troubled world even worse,” he said in a veiled reference to the United States.

The foreign minister was asked about stepped-up Chinese military operations around Taiwan and whether China is considering a military operation against the island similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said two Chinese jets flew within the island’s air defense zone on Monday, among the scores of warplanes that have tested Taiwan’s military in recent months that have forced Taipei to scramble jets and raise the alert status of its air defenses in response.

Mr. Wang said the issues related to Taiwan and Ukraine were very different and the two should not be compared. Russia’s invasion last month challenged Beijing’s longstanding defense of national sovereignty and nonintervention.

“The most fundamental difference is that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, the Taiwan issue is entirely China’s internal affairs, and the Ukraine issue is a dispute between Russia and Ukraine,” he said. “We have seen that some people emphasize the principle of sovereignty on the Ukraine issue, but they continue to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Taiwan issue. This is a blatant double standard.”

China has called for Taiwan to accept China’s policy called “one country, two systems.” But Beijing violated that policy itself after the crackdown on democratic rule in Hong Kong last year. Hong Kong had been promised it could keep its democracy under the one country, two systems policy.

Regarding the U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, Mr. Wang said it was aimed at producing anti-Chinese military and political alliances, such as the “Quad” nations of the United States, India, Japan and Australia. He criticized U.S. moves under Presidents Trump and Biden to boost intelligence-sharing and build stronger military ties between the allies.

The Pentagon recently concluded a deal with Britain to supply nuclear submarines to Australia.

“The real purpose of the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’ is to try to create an Indo-Pacific version of NATO,” Mr. Wang said. “It maintains the U.S.-led hegemonic system, impacts the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation structure, and damages the overall and long-term interests.”

A State Department spokesperson said the Indo-Pacific strategy is the U.S. government’s affirmative plan for the region and is not a U.S. strategy aimed toward China.

“This Indo-Pacific strategy argues that no region will be more vital to the United States in the future — and that American security and prosperity fundamentally depend on the Indo-Pacific,” the spokesperson said. “This vision is shared in a bipartisan fashion at home, in the region, and across Europe.”

Two elements highlight the approach, including efforts to strengthen the U.S. role in the region and work toward building collective capacity for 21st-century challenges “whether that be the behavior of the PRC, the climate crisis, or the next pandemic,” the spokesperson said, using the term for the People’s Republic of China.

While not the China strategy, the Indo-Pacific strategy regards the region as an area of intense competition, he added.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby criticized China last week for not joining Western sanctions on Russia and attempting to blame U.S. and NATO policy for sparking the Ukraine invasion.

“We haven’t seen the Chinese blame [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for the violence he’s causing. Instead they have been blaming the United States, incredibly,” he said.

Mr. Wang said Monday that China supports peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv “as soon as possible,” while seeking to maintain a middle policy ground between open support for Russia and maintaining ties with Ukraine. But Mr. Wang also insisted that maintaining good relations with Russia was a priority for China‘s foreign policy.

“The friendship between the two peoples is rock-solid, and the prospects for cooperation between the two sides are very broad,” he said. “No matter how sinister the international situation is, both China and Russia will maintain their strategic resolve and keep pushing forward the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era.”

Mr. Wang said the Chinese officials are “highly concerned” about the safety of hundreds of Chinese nationals trying to escape Ukraine. Beijing initially ordered Chinese nationals to display the Chinese flag on their vehicles until their cars came under fire during the war.

Commenting on Mr. Biden’s recent summit of democracies, Mr. Wang said the United States was “blatantly” drawing ideological lines and creating divisions that “tramples on the spirit of democracy.”

Despite the iron authoritarian rule of the Communist regime, Mr. Wang argued that “China’s whole-process people’s democracy is a broad, real and effective democracy, which has won the wholehearted support and support of the Chinese people.”

“Interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the guise of democracy,” he added, “can only bring disaster to the people.”

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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